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A sticker advertising the use of an Intel processor used inside a laptop in London. Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images

Despite the revelation of a massive vulnerability affecting more than a decade's worth of chips, Intel says it believes it has the issue well in hand, both for current and future chips.

Why it matters: For the issue not to hit the bottom line, as Intel maintains it won't, the chipmaker needs to keep current customers happy, maintain its market share and ensure future products don't suffer big delays.

In an interview, two of Intel's top technical leaders told Axios that mitigations are place for all three known vulnerabilities and insists it already has a plan in place to protect future chips. (For more on the chip issues, see this explainer.)

Fixes coming: Initial reports suggested the chip problem was exclusively Intel's issue, that systems can't be fully patched and that even those that could be patched would see a substantial performance hit. But Intel insists none of those three things are true.

  • "We have in place complete mitigations for all three variants," VP Donald Parker told Axios. The company said Thursday that it has firmware updates for half the chips made in the last five years and will have mitigations for 90 percent of those chips by the end of next week.
  • "We will continue to work on products older than that," Parker said, though at a certain point the company says it will gauge demand to figure out how far back to offer fixes.

Performance concerns overblown: While there can be specific instances where the necessary updates slow performance, Intel reiterated that typical users shouldn't see much of a performance impact and pointed to comments from Google, Microsoft and others that seem to bear that out.

Future chips not impacted: Parker said that the company has been designing upcoming chips with changes that will help protect against attacks without giving up entirely on "speculative execution", the technology at the heart of the vulnerability.

  • That's important because speculative execution has proven to be an important technique for making the best use of a chip's processing power.
  • The technique lets chips use excess computing power to essentially play what-if — calculating next steps that might or might not be called for later.
  • Giving up the technique entirely would likely result in slower performance since the chips would spend more time idle.

Making the changes, Parker said, shouldn't cause any significant delays or product cancellations. He said the techniques used to protect against the vulnerability in the new products will be more efficient than the software-based mitigations being used to secure existing ones.

But, but but: Intel says it has been looking around for other, similar vulnerabilities. So far it hasn't found any, but Intel fully expects that outside researchers will be studying if other types of attacks can be crafted using the recently revealed vulnerabilities.

"That's what they do," says Intel corporate VP Stephen Smith.

Stock sale: Also Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is facing renewed scrutiny over millions of dollars of stock sales made last year, after Intel was made aware of the vulnerabilities.

Go deeper

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.